4 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord,
“if you want to come back to me 1
you must get those disgusting idols 2 out of my sight
and must no longer go astray. 3
2 You must be truthful, honest and upright
when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ 4
If you do, 5 the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.” 6
3 Yes, 7 the Lord has this to say
to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground,
you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning;
just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted,
you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 8
4 Just as ritual circumcision cuts away the foreskin
as an external symbol of dedicated covenant commitment,
you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the Lord
and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, 9
people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
If you do not, 10 my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to extinguish.
That will happen because of the evil you have done.”
5 The Lord said, 11
“Announce 12 this in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem: 13
‘Sound the trumpet 14 throughout the land!’
Shout out loudly,
‘Gather together! Let us flee into the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a signal flag that tells people to go to Zion. 15
Run for safety! Do not delay!
For I am about to bring disaster out of the north.
It will bring great destruction. 16
7 Like a lion that has come up from its lair 17
the one who destroys nations has set out from his home base. 18
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will become ruins and lie uninhabited.
8 So put on sackcloth!
Mourn and wail, saying,
‘The fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us!’” 19
9 “When this happens,” 20 says the Lord,
“the king and his officials will lose their courage.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be speechless in astonishment.”
10 In response to all this 21 I said, “Ah, Lord God, 22 you have surely allowed 23 the people of Judah and Jerusalem 24 to be deceived by those who say, ‘You will be safe!’ 25 But in fact a sword is already at our throats.” 26
11 “At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem 27 will be told,
‘A scorching wind will sweep down
from the hilltops in the desert on 28 my dear people. 29
It will not be a gentle breeze
for winnowing the grain and blowing away the chaff. 30
12 No, 31 a wind too strong for that will come at my bidding.
Yes, even now I, myself, am calling down judgment on them.’ 32
13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds. 33
The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind. 34
His horses move more swiftly than eagles.”
I cry out, 35 “We are doomed, 36 for we will be destroyed!”
14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil 37
so that you may yet be delivered.
How long will you continue to harbor up
wicked schemes within you?
15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster,
from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim. 38
16 They are saying, 39
‘Announce to the surrounding nations, 40
“The enemy is coming!” 41
Proclaim this message 42 to Jerusalem:
“Those who besiege cities 43 are coming from a distant land.
They are ready to raise the battle cry against 44 the towns in Judah.”’
17 They will surround Jerusalem 45
like men guarding a field 46
because they have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done 47
will bring this on you.
This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed. 48
The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.” 49
19 I said, 50
“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! 51
I writhe in anguish.
Oh, the pain in my heart! 52
My heart pounds within me.
I cannot keep silent.
For I hear the sound of the trumpet; 53
the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul! 54
20 I see 55 one destruction after another taking place,
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our 56 tents suddenly destroyed,
their 57 curtains torn down in a mere instant. 58
21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?” 59
22 The Lord answered, 60
“This will happen 61 because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense. 62
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
23 “I looked at the land and saw 63 that it was an empty wasteland. 64
I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.
24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking.
All the hills were swaying back and forth!
25 I looked and saw that there were no more people, 65
and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert
and that all of the cities had been laid in ruins.
The Lord had brought this all about
because of his blazing anger. 66
27 All this will happen because the Lord said, 67
“The whole land will be desolate;
however, I will not completely destroy it.
28 Because of this the land will mourn
and the sky above will grow black. 68
For I have made my purpose known 69
and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.” 70
29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers
the people of every town will flee.
Some of them will hide in the thickets.
Others will climb up among the rocks.
All the cities will be deserted.
No one will remain in them.
30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction, 71
you accomplish nothing 72 by wearing a beautiful dress, 73
decking yourself out in jewels of gold,
and putting on eye shadow! 74
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing.
Your lovers spurn you.
They want to kill you. 75
31 In fact, 76 I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby.
It is the cry of Daughter Zion 77 gasping for breath,
reaching out for help, 78 saying, “I am done in! 79
My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”
5 The Lord said, 1
“Go up and down 2 through the streets of Jerusalem. 3
Look around and see for yourselves.
Search through its public squares.
See if any of you can find a single person
who deals honestly and tries to be truthful. 4
If you can, 5 then I will not punish this city. 6
2 These people make promises in the name of the Lord. 7
But the fact is, 8 what they swear to is really a lie.” 9
3 Lord, I know you look for faithfulness. 10
But even when you punish these people, they feel no remorse. 11
Even when you nearly destroy them, they refuse to be corrected.
They have become as hardheaded as a rock. 12
They refuse to change their ways. 13
4 I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way. 14
They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands. 15
They do not know what their God requires of them. 16
5 I will go to the leaders 17
and speak with them.
Surely they know what the Lord demands. 18
Surely they know what their God requires of them.” 19
Yet all of them, too, have rejected his authority
and refuse to submit to him. 20
6 So like a lion from the thicket their enemies will kill them.
Like a wolf from the desert they will destroy them.
Like a leopard they will lie in wait outside their cities
and totally destroy anyone who ventures out. 21
For they have rebelled so much
and done so many unfaithful things. 22
7 The Lord asked, 23
“How can I leave you unpunished, Jerusalem? 24
Your people 25 have rejected me
and have worshiped gods that are not gods at all. 26
Even though I supplied all their needs, 27 they were like an unfaithful wife to me. 28
They went flocking 29 to the houses of prostitutes. 30
8 They are like lusty, well-fed 31 stallions.
Each of them lusts after 32 his neighbor’s wife.
9 I will surely punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will surely bring retribution on such a nation as this!” 33
10 The Lord commanded the enemy, 34
“March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah and ruin them. 35
But do not destroy them completely.
Strip off their branches
for these people do not belong to the Lord. 36
11 For the nations of Israel and Judah 37
have been very unfaithful to me,”
says the Lord.
12 “These people have denied what the Lord says. 38
They have said, ‘That is not so! 39
No harm will come to us.
We will not experience war and famine. 40
13 The prophets will prove to be full of wind. 41
The Lord has not spoken through them. 42
So, let what they say happen to them.’”
14 Because of that, 43 the Lord, the God who rules over all, 44 said to me, 45
“Because these people have spoken 46 like this, 47
I will make the words that I put in your mouth like fire.
And I will make this people like wood
which the fiery judgments you speak will burn up.” 48
15 The Lord says, 49 “Listen, 50 nation of Israel! 51
I am about to bring a nation from far away to attack you.
It will be a nation that was founded long ago
and has lasted for a long time.
It will be a nation whose language you will not know.
Its people will speak words that you will not be able to understand.
16 All of its soldiers are strong and mighty. 52
Their arrows will send you to your grave. 53
17 They will eat up your crops and your food.
They will kill off 54 your sons and your daughters.
They will eat up your sheep and your cattle.
They will destroy your vines and your fig trees. 55
Their weapons will batter down 56
the fortified cities you trust in.
18 Yet even then 57 I will not completely destroy you,” says the Lord. 19 “So then, Jeremiah, 58 when your people 59 ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ tell them, ‘It is because you rejected me and served foreign gods in your own land. So 60 you must serve foreigners 61 in a land that does not belong to you.’
20 “Proclaim 62 this message among the descendants of Jacob. 63
Make it known throughout Judah.
21 Tell them: ‘Hear this,
you foolish people who have no understanding,
who have eyes but do not discern,
who have ears but do not perceive: 64
22 “You should fear me!” says the Lord.
“You should tremble in awe before me! 65
I made the sand to be a boundary for the sea,
a permanent barrier that it can never cross.
Its waves may roll, but they can never prevail.
They may roar, but they can never cross beyond that boundary.” 66
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned aside and gone their own way. 67
24 They do not say to themselves, 68
“Let us revere the Lord our God.
It is he who gives us the autumn rains and the spring rains at the proper time.
It is he who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.” 69
25 Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming. 70
Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.’ 71
26 “Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.
They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush. 72
They set deadly traps 73 to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught, 74
their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit. 75
That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful. 76
28 That is how 77 they have grown fat and sleek. 78
There is no limit to the evil things they do. 79
They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.
They do not defend the rights of the poor.
29 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this! 80
30 “Something horrible and shocking
is going on in the land of Judah:
31 The prophets prophesy lies.
The priests exercise power by their own authority. 81
And my people love to have it this way.
But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes! 82